It’s been almost a week since a 44-year-old Glendale elementary school teacher disappeared after bailing a man out of a Flagstaff jail, leaving many fearing the worst.
That doesn’t mean her family and friends are giving up.
About a dozen people drove to Coconino County on Wednesday to help search trailheads along U.S. Highway 89, patrol down County Road 73 and comb the banks of the Santa Fe Reservoir. Loved ones are hoping to establish a command post later this week in Williams to serve as a staging area for volunteers searching the vast area for any sign of Cathryn Gorospe.
“Hope’s all you got,” Cory Gorospe, the woman’s brother, told The Arizona Republic on Wednesday night. “You hold onto it.”
The Flagstaff Police Department released photos Wednesday of Gorospe in the jail. This was the last time she was seen.
Man she bailed out of jail remains mum
Phoenix police took 27-year-old Charlie Malzahn into custody Monday after he was caught using Gorospe’s credit and debit cards in Tucson and fleeing police in Phoenix. He has since refused to provide information on the whereabouts of Cathryn Gorospe, who bailed him out of jail Friday night, according to investigators.
Malzahn was found with the woman’s vehicle, a white 2010 Toyota Rav4 with Green Bay Packers stickers. There were bloodstains on the interior, but investigators have stopped short of offering a working theory on what happened — or even saying outright that Malzahn is suspected of killing the teacher from Arrowhead Elementary School in north Glendale.
It remains unclear exactly what the nature of their relationship was.
Cory Gorospe told The Republic they’ve only recently come to understand his sister might have had some sort of friendship with Malzahn, though more questions than answers remain.
“The first I heard of him was when I heard she went missing,” he said.
Flagstaff police did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday evening.
Adding to the case’s mystery, Malzahn is the stepson of the chief of police in Williams, a town of 6,000 residents on the Interstate 40 corridor. That’s where he was arrested Aug. 20 on suspicion of theft and gun possession, among other charges that ultimately landed him in the Coconino County Jail in Flagstaff.
Williams police Lt. Darrell Hixson said Malzahn and the chief did not speak to each other during the arrest. Malzahn was known to law enforcement, Hixson said, adding that officers had prior run-ins with him for underage drinking and fighting calls.
Roommate reported Gorospe missing
Gorospe, an avid hiker described as a particularly athletic and loving woman, reportedly told her roommate she was going to post bail for Malzahn. She was to have dinner and then return home, Flagstaff police spokesman Cory Runge said previously.
She posted his bail shortly after 10 p.m.
Investigators believe Malzahn and Gorospe traveled west from Flagstaff but haven’t determined how long the two were together. At some point, Malzahn took the vehicle and criss-crossed the state, traveling through Chino Valley, Prescott, Prescott Valley, Dewey, Phoenix, Tempe, Gold Canyon and ultimately Clifton, about 30 miles west of the New Mexico border.
About 1 p.m. Saturday, Tucson police contacted Malzahn at Tucson Mall after he attempted to purchase items with a Gorospe’s credit card, Runge said. The officer seized the purchased items and cards but did not detain him.
The woman’s roommate reported her missing Sunday afternoon, saying it was unusual for Gorospe not to have made arrangements for her dog if she was going to be away for a while.
Thirty-six hours later, Phoenix police spotted Gorospe’s vehicle near 59th Avenue and Camelback Road. After a pursuit, Malzahn crashed near 27th and Northern avenues, where he was taken into custody, police said. He fought with officers during the jail intake process in an apparent escape attempt that was unsuccessful.
A preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 19.
‘This is just about finding my sister’
Asked what he want to convey to Malzahn, Cory Gorospe’s message was blunt:
“Just give me an area to search for my sister,” he said. “This is not about me. This is about finding my sister. That’s where my focus need to be.”
Police describe Cathryn Gorospe as 5 feet, 5 inches tall and 150 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Flagstaff police at 928-774-1414.
Republic reporters Blaine McCormick and Adrian Marsh contributed to this article.
Reach the reporter at 602-444-8515 or on Twitter: @pohl_jason.
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